More on The Listener

Listener.jpg The Listener’s unfortunately timed decision to drop Dave Hansford as its Ecologic columnist is certainly making waves around the blogs, and is now being taken up by the general media. John Drinnan covers the story in the Herald today, and the issue has been commented on at Hard News, No Right Turn, Poneke, and (for balance, of course 😉 ) at Kiwiblog. Meanwhile Hansford has been interviewed for next week’s Media7 programme, and the issue is expected to be covered by Mediawatch on RadioNZ National this weekend. The comments here have been lively too – look for posts by some of the key players – including sceptics.

I’ll bring you more on this story as it develops. In the meantime, I offer you this article from the BBC, which discusses how a responsible media organisation should approach the question of balance in climate coverage. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine how the Listener performs in that context.

3 thoughts on “More on The Listener”

  1. It’s important that we stay focused on the fundamental issue arising out of this saga; it’s given us an opportunity to critically appraise the issue of the media’s handling of the climate denial industry.

    If there’s to be a positive outcome, let’s hope it will be that the media finally (if belatedly) steps back from this intellectual deadlock and conducts instead a lucid re-analysis of its relationship with the denial industry (and by extension, US neo-con front groups).

    We need to replace the denial industry in its correct position – and accord it appropriate status – in climate change reporting.

    That is to say; we recognise them for what they are, and duly attribute them so; political lobbyists pushing a free-market agenda. With the exception of Chris deFreitas THEY ARE NOT CLIMATE SCIENTISTS (and my understanding of Chris’ work is that it does not focus on global climate modelling).

    Given that they are in fact a political entity, instead of a scientific one, let’s by all means consider and report their comments on mitigation policy, pricing instruments, even energy options (that’s something Bryan Leyland can at least claim some experience in). That is their rightful place in climate change coverage.

    Let’s hope the media can – as did the BBC and the New York Times – come up with an editorial policy that does not deny readers the critical information they need to evaluate the claims by the Climate Science Coalition.

    That information is;

    * that these people are not qualified (again, with the possible exception of deFreitas) to call the IPCC’s findings into question,

    *that they are paid by industry to stall progress on climate change policy

    The Listener’s “right of reply” piece this week denied its readers even that basic background – as does virtually all mainstream media treatment. (Incidentally, its piece – also this week – on evolution, did not go to any creationists for their comments. It seems “balance” is being employed selectively)

    That firmly established, we then need to decide precisely what weight, in terms of percentage coverage, we give them. They represent a minority position, and a small one at that. I think that would be an excellent place to begin.

    Finally, the media must apply the same standards of accuracy, balance and credibility to deniers as they expect of their own reporters. There has been a signal failure to do this.

    The media is complicit in this. We helped create this monster; we gave it oxygen, energy and exposure. We lent it a credibility it has not earned. Now it’s turned around and bitten us. It’s out of control, and we have to decide what to do about it.

    Climate change is the single biggest environmental threat New Zealanders face, but the media, by pandering to the denial industry, has manifestly failed to give them the quality of information they need to respond to it.

    Meanwhile, we squander our most precious resource; time.

  2. Well put, Dave! I’ve admired your ability to stay calm and focused in your comments on this issue. If nothing else, the Listener’s heavy-handed actions have ensured that your comments about the climate denial industry have got much wider coverage than one Listener column could allow.

  3. What Steven Price has to say (extract):
    HotTopic – a serious blog about global warming – questioned the Listener’s removal of Dave Hansford as its Ecologic columnist. The blogger wondered whether Hansford’s removal had anything to do with his recent column criticising climate change sceptics. The post is largely a model of fairness. It sets out the background facts. It raises questions rather than making allegations. It even allows that the Listener’s editor may have made the change for other reasons. It plainly expresses comment. Readers can judge for themselves what to think. Bloody hell: how many blog posts merit that accolade? (For my part, I doubt Hansford was removed because of the column. The blog post is temperate enough that others have reached that view too).

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